In looking at some history blog posts, I ran across one to which my response was simply, Wow.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the writer’s description of his own academic career, one in which he explored his interests with the passion of youthful curiosity – sometimes suffering the consequences of lower grades as that curiosity led him away from assigned homework into new and wonderful regions of study. One of my favorite memories (and one which I have mentioned before) is of sitting on the library steps under grand redwood trees reading Becket and Pinter. I ought to have been writing a paper on aesthetic theory in education, but instead I absorbed Theatre of the Absurb and the wee bit of sunlight that reached through the canopy overhead.
It is rather a shame that we often focus more on the achievement of an academic mark than on learning something new and interesting. When our minds are engaged, we are filled with curiosity and a hunger for more knowledge. Over time, we accumulate great gobs of the stuff – so much that our little brains begin to expand and new neuropathways are formed. Failures are part of this kaleidoscope, from which we learn either our own limitations, or gain a deeper understanding of how best we learn new things. We begin thinking in new ways.
This holds true in professional life as well; we spend our energy on the daily struggle, sacrificing our intellectual hunger on an altar dedicated to achieving immediate results. I am terribly guilty of this myself and over the past year have attempted to change. By following this pattern, we limit ourselves professionally, and the corporation/company/institution for which we work suffers indirectly, in that it loses the benefit of our unrealized potential. That potential is quashed along the way, trampled beneath our frantic attempts to prove our immediate worth, solve the immediate problem, look good now.
I read this essay at just the right time, as I needed the inspiration. As I mentioned above, I have been puzzling over this problem for several months, and have floundered. But now I am ready to experiment, and not overly fearful of a little failure along the way. So I wish myself Godspeed as I begin to change my way of thinking.